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DOD Contractors and Troop Levels in Iraq and Afghanistan: 2007-2016

Post Date: August 17, 2016 | Category: Around the World

Department of Defense (DOD)

Professional Overseas Contractors

This report provides background information for Congress on the levels of Department of Defense (DOD) troop and contractor personnel deployed in support of prior and ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Throughout its history, DOD has relied on contractors to support a wide range of military operations. Operations over the past 30 years have highlighted the critical role that contractors play in supporting U.S. troops—both in terms of the number of contractors and the type of work being performed. During recent U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, contractors frequently averaged 50% or more of the total DOD presence in-country.

The Role of Contractors in Military Operations

As of March 2016, there were approximately 28,600 DOD contractor personnel in Afghanistan, compared to 8,730 U.S. troops, with contract personnel representing approximately 77% of the total DOD presence in country.3 Of the 28,600 DOD contractor personnel, approximately 870, or about 3%, were private security contractors. DOD ceased publicly reporting numbers of DOD contractor personnel working in Iraq in December 2013, following the conclusion of the U.S. combat mission, and the subsequent drawdown of DOD contractor personnel levels in Iraq. In late 2014, in response in part to developing operations in the region, DOD reinitiated reporting broad estimates of DOD contractor personnel deployed in Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). As the number of DOD contractor personnel in Iraq increased over the first six months of 2015, DOD resumed reporting exact numbers and primary mission categories of OIR contractor personnel in June 2015. As of July 2016, there were approximately 2,500 DOD contractor personnel in Iraq, compared to a current force management level of 4,087 U.S. troops in Iraq, primarily deployed as part of a U.S.-led coalition advise-and-assist mission in support of the Government of Iraq. 4 Contract personnel thus represented approximately 38% of the total estimated DOD presence in-country. From FY2007 to FY2015, DOD obligations for contracts performed in the greater Iraq and Afghanistan areas of operation were approximately $220 billion in FY2017 dollars.


For more information on DOD’s use of contractor personnel to support military operations, see CRS Report R43074, Department of Defense’s Use of Contractors to Support Military Operations: Background, Analysis, and Issues for Congress, by Moshe Schwartz.

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